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News | May 25, 2017

Meet Vice Adm. David Lewis, DCMA director

By Patrick Tremblay DCMA Public Affairs

FORT LEE, Va., May 25, 2017 — The Defense Contract Management Agency welcomed its new director, Navy Vice Adm. David Lewis, May 24. The Washington state native brings 38 years of experience to the agency, much of it in acquisition. Lewis most recently commanded the Navy’s San Diego-based Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command.

Though nominated to take command of DCMA by the president March 28, it was May 1 before final Senate confirmation – giving the then two-star rear admiral just three weeks to prepare for a promotion and assume command.

“My wife Cynthia and I have long stopped counting the number of times we have moved on Navy orders, but this one was our sixth cross country move, and the fourth where we had to ‘be there yesterday,’” said Lewis.

What followed was a flurry of packing and preparation, followed by a road trip across the country “with two elderly cats and a car in tow.”

Lewis has spent the majority of his time as a naval officer working in product delivery, product maintenance and platform modernization. Though his experience is rooted in shipbuilding, his acquisition skills, understanding of industry and appreciation of the importance of delivery to the warfighter transcend sectors.

“Shipbuilding and ship maintenance work has dominated my experience,” said Lewis, “but I also have had significant experience working with combat systems, C4I (command, control, communications, computers and intelligence) and cyber security systems in both ship and shore environments.”

Lewis’s has always had an interest in the technical side of complex systems, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in computer science from the University of Nebraska, where he also earned his Navy commission through the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps. He later received a master’s in computer science from the Naval Postgraduate School.

The Navy career that followed included time at sea as a communications, fire control, missile battery and combat systems officer aboard destroyers and guided-missile cruisers. His shore assignments placed him largely in shipbuilding roles.

“I have delivered ships as a program manager and program executive officer where I later had to sustain them and modernize them as a fleet engineer or systems commander,” said Lewis. “To maintain and modernize the product you built is a humbling experience.” It has also given him a unique understanding of the full acquisition lifecycle.

Lewis said he’s looking forward to his time with DCMA, and getting back into product delivery. “I really enjoy the challenges associated with finishing construction and testing of a platform or system and completing the DD-250 acceptance process. I find great professional and personal satisfaction in overcoming all of the obstacles inherent in the product delivery process and, in the end, delivering a functional, useful item to the warfighter. It is a hard, non-deterministic problem that has no textbook answer, in my experience.”

The independent Department of Defense agency that Lewis now leads was established in 2000, but it’s a direct evolution of organizations that go back decades, particularly to the 1960s. Some significant changes have occurred at the agency in the past few years, including moving its headquarters to Fort Lee in 2011, and an internal reorganization last year.

“We now have a strong, useful foundation of people, processes and procedures in place that will allow us to grow to the next higher level of performance,” said Lewis. “To do that, we must improve and modernize our information technology, knowledge management and personnel systems in order to break through the remaining performance barriers we have in place today.

“I see DCMA as poised to move up to the next level across all of our competencies, and I very much look forward to participating in that necessary organizational growth process.”

This includes looking closely at the organizations the agency works with, from program offices to industry, with an eye toward keeping everyone effective in the fast-changing landscapes of defense requirements, technology and industry.

“A healthy, competitive, innovative defense industry has been the foundation for America’s defense for more than a century, and I believe that we must first understand, and then appropriately sustain, that capability for future generations,” said Lewis. “Our desire to perform our mission efficiently, effectively and affordably must be matched by industries drive to deliver their products in more affordable, efficient and effective ways.”

Lewis said the people at DCMA are the primary resource for making this happen, but was clear — the mission is the most important thing.

“I expect our workforce to be competent, informed, forthright, active in their professional area of expertise, innovative, results-focused, and highly ethical in day-to-day conduct. This is all essential, because it how we succeed in our mission,” he said.

“DCMA was built to be the most efficient, effective and affordable way to deliver Department of Defense warfighting equipment manufactured by our industry counterparts. We must always be striving to find new and better ways of doing our work with the resources we receive.”


Vice Adm. David Lewis’s Commander’s Intent

One: We Deliver.
We are, first and foremost, a product delivery organization. Our Nation’s warfighters expect our industry counterparts to deliver the equipment and systems they need to fight and win our Nation’s wars, and DCMA is the Department of Defense organization tasked to make sure that happens at the factory floor. Timely, effective product delivery requires insightful and proactive integration across contracting, engineering, quality assurance, finance, information technology, and program management. We must always perform as an integrated team; a team focused on the singular, common goal of product delivery.

Two: We Must Always Provide “Best Value” to the Nation.
All of the services provide product delivery and contract administrative functions. DCMA was built to be the most efficient, effective and affordable way to deliver Department of Defense warfighting equipment manufactured by our industry counterparts. If we are not always the most efficient, effective and affordable provider, there is no need for DCMA.

Today, we have far more demand for our services than we can accommodate with our current methods and workforce. Therefore, we must constantly assess the value we provide through our work against the cost to provide it, across the full spectrum of our mission. We must always be ready to respond to changing DoD program requirements, resource allocations and industry capabilities by modernizing our methods, improving our tools and, most critically, being flexible with our workforce assignments and professional skill sets in order to deliver best value to both the warfighter and the taxpayer.

Three: Work Smarter not Harder.
We live in a rapidly changing world. What was great last year may only be good today, and could be clearly headed for awful by next year. If we stand still, we will fail to deliver the best possible product to our customers and fail to meet our mandate of efficient, effective and affordable service. Information technology, manufacturing processes, quality assurance, business systems, and test and evaluation are all evolving and improving in new and exciting ways. We must not only keep up, we must be the Department’s leaders and innovators in performing our work, adapting to and leveraging these changes in order to better deliver products at ever lower costs. We must provide Insight as well as Oversight.